There’s the referee’s whistle, and we’re off: Brexit is underway.
Yesterday, what was always going to happen finally did happen, although our anticipation of the inevitable did nothing to understate the bewildering clusterfuck of what was ultimately confirmed.
MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the government’s European Union Bill – 498 votes to a mere 114 – allowing Theresa May to formally begin Brexit negotiations. The prime minister has set a deadline of 31 March for the invoking of Article 50, which will spell the beginning of *official talks* with the EU.
It’s been a very speechy week.
There have been lots of speeches, from lots of different people, each one, somehow, managing to come off as a little speechier than the last. Ken Clarke gave a very good one, reminding people just how painfully silly this whole situation is, while Ed Miliband resurfaced in politician form (hints of meme still visible) to sock it to May’s embracing of The Donald. Elsewhere, the SNP did what they do best (angry, overlooked, institutionally wronged), Sir Keir Starmer put words together in a vaguely coherent order, while Nick Clegg gave a rousing, particularly speechy number and George Osbourne helped reinforce suspicions that he probably [absolutely, definitely] doesn’t have a reflection.
Among all of the overt speechiness, Labour quietly continued about their business of seeing just how quickly they can fall apart. At this rate, all that’ll be left is Corbyn, McDonell and Abbott in an empty, candlelit room, playing spin the bottle and Springsteen covers. With more challenges, dismissals and a split bigger than any simile could possibly even begin to articulate, it’s as business as usual for Jez and co. In his defence, I guess having a purpose is rather of the establishment.
It’s such an incompetence in opposition that has allowed May, Davis and whoever’s doing the job that Liam Fox is supposed to be doing a free ride up until now. The Lib Dems (bless ’em) have given it such a good go that you can’t help but feel sorry for them that their shot at the political big time™ has come during the Tim Farron years. Comparing his contribution to the week’s speechiness to Clegg’s was a telling display of before and after; a political ‘and here’s what you could have won’, if you will. Sad!
So, to sum up: In the red corner, you have the Tories (minus Clarke) and the dying embers of the Labour Party, while in the blue, the Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the bits of Labour that Jezza keeps trying to spray with Vanish. But, hovering above all of the speechy squabbling, is Mrs May, cunning, calculated and with one hand clamped inside the tiny paw of America’s President Baby. While the boys and girls of parliament have been engaging in verbal playfights, the Prime Minister has been quietly going about her business, long before Thursday’s decision.
In a tense encounter with Corbyn during this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions, May quipped “He [Corbyn] can lead a protest, I’m leading a country” – and she’s right. Theresa May is indeed leading a country, right into the arms of a dangerous, unpredictable bigot, that has committed more to hatred in just over a week than most manage in a lifetime.
No longer do we face the danger of the great unknown – it’s the glaringly obvious conclusion that’s scariest now.
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Words by Niall Flynn